Revisiting a Jim Crow-Era Guide for Traveling While Black



“My family had a ‘Green Book’ when I was young and used it to travel in the South to find out where we could stop to eat, where we could spend the night in a hotel or somebody’s home.” -Former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond

Today, we increasingly hear of efforts to strengthen black businesses and improve the quality of black consumers’ experience, such as the creation of black business databases, lists of black owned banks, and the emergence of niche businesses that cater specifically to black people like Noirbnb.

But before all of this, there were the Green Books─a travel guide of sorts for Black people of the Jim Crow era with higher stakes. Named after its creator, postal worker Victor Green, the Green Books were published from the 30’s until the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 1960’s, which legally ended segregation.

Although the books included listings of safe businesses, hotels, attractions, restaurants, and homes for black families to visit, the establishments were not all black owned.

While travel guides of today help you have an enjoyable vacation, the Green Books were intended to help Black folks avert, at best, discrimination and at worst, violence and possibly death.

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